According to John Irving: “I may one day write a better first sentence to a novel than that of A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I doubt it. I have a feeling for first sentences, and I’ve written some pretty good ones.”
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
What makes the first sentence of A Prayer for Owen Meany such a good one, according to the author, is that “the whole novel is contained in it”.
The art of writing first sentences according to John Irving…
1. “The primary function of a first sentence is to make you keep reading.”
2. “I never write the first sentence until I know all the important things that happen in the story, especially – and I mean exactly – what happens at the end of the novel.”
3. “The reader is informed that a grisly accident is about to happen; few readers will look away from grisly accidents.” [Irving on the first sentence of The Fourth Hand].